What Grace Really Is (and What It Isn’t)

Grace. It is the beautiful unmerited favor of God that we can do nothing to earn. God freely gives His grace to those who have believed on Jesus. I am absolutely humbled by His grace daily.

I think that the church as a whole however, has a faulty view of grace. It is preached from many pulpits as an excuse or a way out of righteous living. Since God’s grace covers us, we can do as we please, right? There is no need to watch our mouth, or the content on our television, or the clothing on our bodies since God is all about grace. Is your parenting not quite up to par? Forget about it, because you have grace. Why bother following God’s Word, or desiring a godly life since grace covers you. I am saddened by this, because God’s people are being led astray by a multitude of leaders that are in actuality false teachers.

Many people view God’s grace as something that is somewhat stagnant. God bestows it on us at conversion, and then we are good. Grace is fluid however, and life changing.

Let’s take a look in Titus 2. This chapter includes the infamous (among Christian homemakers at least) instructions concerning godly older women as teachers to younger women. When we get to verse 11, Paul begins speaking about grace. My Bible actually titles this section as “Trained by Saving Grace.” Verses 11-12 says:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.

Grace is more than God’s unmerited favor. It is an active teacher. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and says that we should live righteously in the present age. This present age is the here and now.

John MacArthur states it this way on his website, “Many professing Christians today utterly ignore the biblical truth that grace “instruct[s] us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Instead, they live as if grace were a supernatural “Get Out of Jail FREE” ticket-a no-strings-attached, open-ended package of amnesty, beneficence, indulgence, forbearance, charity, leniency, immunity, approval, tolerance, and self-awarded privilege divorced from any moral demands.” (To read the rest of his insightful article, click here).

If we are truly a Christian, but deny this fact, then we have some reevaluation to do. We cannot chose to live by some verses of the Bible and not others. It is all or nothing.

The remainder of the book of Titus is just filled with wisdom. The beginning of Chapter 3 discusses how we are heirs of Grace. It is such a beautiful truth! Let’s specifically look at verse 8.

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

While we are saved by God’s grace, and it is not of works, we are taught that we must be careful to maintain good works. This implies action and evaluation on our part. It is God’s grace that will propel us to evaluate our lives and remain careful to maintain these works. In James 2 we are taught that faith without works is dead, and likewise that works without faith is dead. We are told that even the demons believe that there is one God (faith without works)…and look at their future! Likewise the Pharisees (works without faith) were compared to “whitewashed tombs” in Matthew 23:27, “beautiful on the outside and full of bones and uncleanliness on the inside.”

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:14-24

Since through scripture we see that God’s grace propels us to good works, we should desire to do them. But what if our flesh is winning the battle, and we do not have any desire to follow all of God’s ways? We probably have some evaluation to do. Here are a few questions to ask.
Have I truly repented?

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:15

When we come to Christ, we must repent of our sins. Repentance means to turn from. Basically, we are to forsake our sins, and do them no longer. Sometimes the easiest sins to cleanse are our outward sins…our clothing, our word choices, our choice of media, etc. But it is so very easy to still have a complaining spirit, and most people are critical of one another. As a mom, I’ve been guilty of harboring a critical spirit towards other mothers for what their children do or don’t eat, what type of diapers their children wear, if they vaccinate or do not, etc. Basically I’ve been critical about things that are personal choices that are in no way related to Biblical mandates. What a terrible sin that was, and it still rears it’s ugly head from time to time. Which leads me to the next question.

Am I abiding in Jesus?

We cannot become so busy in our lives, that our Lord and His Word takes a back seat. The only way we can navigate this world for Christ is to daily abide in Him! For example, I’ve longed to become more gentle for awhile now. I’ve tried in my own might, and it never seems to work. I didn’t realize that I was pursuing this virtue outside of Christ. Personally, I’ve noticed a huge difference in my walk with the Lord when I spend a good chunk of my day in the Word. I started a 90 day Bible reading plan about a month ago, and although sometimes it takes me 45 minutes to complete, it is wonderful to spend time with the Lord in that way. Also, I highly recommend listening to sermons throughout the day. Sermon Audio is a wonderful resource. There are so many things that steal our time today ladies. Some things are needful, such as caring for our home and children. This is a ministry. But other things like soap operas, an overabundance of physical exercise, and reading secular romance novels are time stealers. There are many good things in this world, but scripture says we should focus on the excellent (Philippians 4:8). If whatever you are spending time on is not excellent, begin praying about changes that you can make time management wise that will be more pleasing to the Lord. Also, I’ve noticed that while the entire Bible is inspired and wonderful to read, if I spend a bit of time daily reading the actual words of Jesus, my spirit is uplifted, and things like gentleness (which is a fruit of God’s spirit) begin to manifest.

May we all remember what grace is, and what it isn’t. Praise God that He will bestow this grace on all who sincerely follow Him, which covers our sins and propels us towards righteous living…today, and not just in the age to come.

Linking to:

Growing Home, Tending the Home Tuesdays, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots At Home, Raising Arrows, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home ,Walking Redeemed, A Proverbs 31 Wife, The Modest Mom, A Mama’s Story, Mom’s the Word , Raising Mighty Arrows, Hearts For Home, Time Warp Wife, Graced Simplicity

15 thoughts on “What Grace Really Is (and What It Isn’t)

  1. Olivia says:

    I just want to thank you for your encouraging and uplifting blog. I subscribed to your blog several months ago, and I apologize for not sending this comment sooner. You blog about Halloween and Christmas was right on the money. Every blog I have read has been very uplifting for me, and it seems like I have had the same convictions as you. I love John MacArthur as well. Anyway, thanks again for the time you spend on this blog. God is using you in a mighty way…keep doing what your doing.

  2. Crystal says:

    This is a good study! So many today think they can live how they want because they “know The Lord”. tit2:11-12 teaches grace IS to teach man to respond and how to respond. We must be diligently seeking him day in and day out. Gods grace isn’t something to be misused or interpreted. We know that God is just. He is not to be mocked. We can fall from Grace. Heb.12:15. Also in Rev 2:10 there is an ” if=then of salvation. If your faithful til death then I will give you eternal life. Heb. 6:4-6 we can certainly fall, even Apostle Paul knew in 1Cor. 9:27. also, I guess my question is where you highlighted not by “works”. What does that mean in comparison to James2:14-24 I love digging deep into scriptures and studying to show thyself approved! 2Timothy2:15

    • Nicole says:

      Hi Crystal! I definitely am not a theologian, and I’m sure that I’m not going to get this all right, but I would love to share my interpretation with you. I am a believer that all scripture is inspired, and therefore when it appears to contradict itself (which it does at times) we need to study and ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment. First of all, I believe that if a person is truly in Christ, their salvation is secure for eternity. (John 6:37, John 10:28 among others). The problem is that many who believe that they are in Christ truly are not. I don’t believe that Paul was talking about being snatched from God’s grace in 1 Cor. 9:27, or was saying that if he didn’t live a godly life than he wouldn’t be in Christ any longer, but that he and his teaching would be disqualified. However, a godly life is marked by good works. I think that Paul knew that, and said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified,” in 1 Corinthians 9. That is an encouragement to us that we must discipline our body for godliness and bring it into subjection. In Revelation 2:10, I believe that the ones who are truly in Christ will be found faithful, in relation to the eternal security verses in John. When we look at works, we see in Ephesians 2:8-9 that salvation is by God’s grace alone, and not of works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
      Salvation in and of it self is totally of God, and not of man. But once God has granted saving faith to a man, that faith and works will work together for God’s glory. The true Christian will continually grow in his walk with the Lord, and good works will be evident in his life. These works and faith together will shape the Christian to become more like Christ. Works include living a clean, godly life and helping others in need.

      Again, this is my interpretation. 🙂

  3. Joanne Viola says:

    “Grace is more than God’s unmerited favor. It is an active teacher.” Amen! Beautifully said. May we be willing to learn. I visited this morning from The Modest Mom. Blessings!

  4. Ugochi says:

    This is a very serious issue going on Nicole!
    It is so very sad how people are allowing themselves to be misled. The Apostle Paul by The Holy Ghost asked if we should continue in sin because grace abounds? The answer of course was, God forbid! How can we continue sining and crucifying Christ over and over again.
    We cannot sin and carry God in us at the same time, light and darkness cannot co-habit.
    Grace is no licence to continue in sin, but the power to overcome sin.
    God help His Church!

  5. Amber Hurd says:

    Awesome post Sister! The Holy Spirit is working through you. We know that the Holy Spirit agrees on everything and will reveal the truth to us in Yahweh’s word! Again Excellent post of truth!

  6. Hilda says:

    Amen! Not too long ago my husband mentioned to me how we must be reading the words of Jesus everyday- “words in red” he said. And if we were to read at least one chapter of the gospels a day, we would have read through all four gospels 4 times in one year! I thought that was pretty cool so I began to do this so that I’m reading the words of whom the scriptures point to everyday.

    Hilda 🙂

  7. Sarah D says:

    Thought provoking post, Nicole. It’s so true that “grace” is being misinterpreted and misrepresented to the many both in church and outside of it. Your last two points about repenting and abiding in Jesus were just what I needed. Thank you!

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